A real EM Drive is about to be launched into space for the first time in history, so researchers can finally discover, once and for all, if it actually is possible for a rocket engine to create thrust without any kind of exhaust or propellant. Constructed by American inventor and chemical engineer, Guido Fetta, the EM Drive is as doubtful as it gets, because while certain scientists have proposed that such an engine could work, it also goes contrary to one of the most famous and important laws of physics we have.
"To each action there is an equal and opposite reaction", As Newton's Third Law states, and many physicists say the EM Drive firmly break up that law. This is because, in order for a thruster to get momentum in any direction, it has to eject some kind of propellant or exhaust in the reverse direction. But the EM Drive humbly goes in one direction with no propellant and hence violates the law of conservation of momentum, which Issac Newton derived from his Third Law. And not just that, but it could create enough thrust to take humans to Mars in almost 2 months and 10 days.
As Fiona MacDonald put it back in June, space supporters love to get motivated about the EM Drive, because if it works, it has the possibility to remove major fences in our need to discover the Solar System and beyond. But just as many are enthusiastically sick of hearing about it, because, on paper at least, it does not follow the fundamental laws of physics. Designed by British scientist Roger Shawyer back in 1999, the EM Drive which stands for Electromagnetic Propulsion Drive supposedly works like this. It consumes electromagnetic waves as 'fuel', generating thrust by rebounding microwave photons back and forward inside a cone-shaped sealed metal cavity. This causes the 'pointy end' of the EM Drive to speed up in the opposite direction that the EM drive is going.
Mary Ann Russon describes over at The International BusinessTimes, "To put it simply, electricity changes into microwaves within the cavity that push contrary to the inside of the device, causing the thruster to accelerate in the reverse direction".
An EM Drive prototype. Image: Science 2.0
Since its invention, the EM drive has revealed no signs of giving up, in test after test. Last year, trials by NASA researchers at the Eagleworks laboratory discovered "anomalous thrust signals", and an independent researcher in Germany approved that the propulsion system, somehow, does certainly produce thrust.
Fast-forward to now, and there be stories that the NASA Eagleworks paper we informed in June has finally passed the peer-review procedure, and is estimated to be issued by the American Institute of Aeronautics (AIA) and Astronautics’ Journal of Propulsion and Power (AAJPP). If the rumors by José Rodal from MIT are true, and let’s be clear, they are still just rumors at this point, it could be enormous. As Brendan Hesse describes for Digital Trends: “This is a significant step for the EM Drive as it enhances legitimacy to the technology and the experiments done this far, making a door for other groups to repeat the experiments. This will also allow other groups to dedicate more resources to uncovering why and how it works, and how to repeat on the drive to make it a workable form of thrust.
So, while a peer-reviewed paper is not going to suddenly allow the human race with planetary travel, it is the first footstep toward eventually understanding that possible future." And on top of all of that, we are about to witness a real EM Drive to be launched into space. Guido Fetta is CEO of Cannae Inc, and the discoverer of the Cannae Drive, a rocket engine that is based on Roger Shawyer's unique EM Drive design. Last month, he declared that he would launch this thruster on a 6U CubeSat, a kind of miniaturized satellite.
David Hambling reports for Popular Mechanism that approximately one-quarter of this shoebox-sized satellite will be carried up by the Cannae Drive, and they will stay in orbit for almost six months: "The longer it stays in orbit, the more the satellite will show that it must be creating thrust without propellant."
No launch date has been fixed just yet, but it could take place in as soon as six months' time. As Hambling points out, Fetta better haste, because a group of engineers in China, and Shawyer himself, together are also working on their particular launch-able EM Drives, so somebody is going to get there first, and we truly can’t wait to see what will happen.